article in the Los Angeles Times, "the Justice Department will generally not attempt to enforce federal marijuana laws on federally recognized tribes that choose to allow it, as long as they meet eight federal guidelines, including that marijuana not be sold to minors and not be transported to areas that prohibit it."
I think there'd probably be a lot of hand-wringing going on over the potential dangers of commercializing pot if the subject ever gets openly discussed because reservations are often already troubled by substance abuse: alcohol, narcotics, meth, you name it. But I'd be inclined to think that the county would be a lot better off if the drunks and the tweakers evolved into stoners. Drunks get belligerent, start fights, and kill people by driving while intoxicated. Tweakers go crazy, set up shake and bake labs that endanger people, and engage in petty crime to feed their habit. What do stoners do? Get the munchies and giggle a lot. What's the worst that might happen? The profit margins for the local pizza places would improve.
It will be interesting to see what happens if KBIC does decide to get into growing and selling weed. Most of the Village of Baraga, if not all of it, falls within the reservation boundaries. Theoretically, depending on how the tribal council decided to write its laws concerning pot, someone could open a cannabis cafe in one of the currently vacant businesses on Superior Avenue. For that matter, the tribe could add a line of ganja gourmet items to the menu at the restaurant in the casino and put pot brownies next to the Little Debbies in the gas station convenience stores. Well, maybe not right next to the Little Debbies, more like behind the counter with the cigarettes.
Medical marijuana is already legal in Michigan. The biggest problem people have when they're certified to use medical marijuana is finding a good supply. It may be legal to use it, but it's not legal for anyone to sell it. The one loophole is that if you're certified to use medical marijuana, you're allowed to grow up to 6 plants for your own personal use. How you're supposed to get the seeds to start with is, of course, a mystery.
Most people, however, who have medical conditions that benefit from marijuana use (chronic pain, glaucoma, side effects of cancer treatments) aren't that keen on the idea of having to be farmers as well as users, especially when pot is not an especially fast-growing plant. It's not like growing radishes where you plant them one week and by the end of the month they're ready to eat. From seed to weed can take 6 months or more -- there are ways to make it happen faster (grow lights can force a plant into the flowering stage when it's still quite small) but even with the ultimate in hydroponic equipment and plants that are hybrids bred to grow fast, it's not an overnight process.
In short, there is a potential market of buyers. The biggest catch would be that anyone buying marijuana on a reservation would have to use it there -- it would still be illegal to transport it beyond the tribal boundaries. I could get some pot brownies to eat at the museum in Baraga; I couldn't pick some up to bring home for the S.O. to enjoy, too. (It occurs to me that the banker's box full of mangled matchbooks would probably look like a lot more fun to go through if I were thoroughly stoned when I did it. The downside, of course, is I'd probably have really poor judgement while doing so.)
On the other hand, it is now legal to buy marijuana in Colorado but it remains illegal to transport it out of the state. Pot sales in Colorado are booming, but so far as I know the DEA and other law enforcement agencies haven't set up checkpoints at the border to check tourists' luggage. (Do I want to test that perception the next time I go visit my mother? Probably not.)
Given that a number of states have legalized marijuana, either partially (medical marijuana) or totally, and the reservations have been given carte blanche to do the same, I have a hunch we'll see the complete legalization of marijuana nationally within a decade or two. Law enforcement won't be happy, but then they never are.